Modular nuclear reactor project halved


Artist’s impression of NuScale Power’s small modular nuclear power plant.

NuScale via AP

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) – A Utah energy cooperative has said it will reduce the number of small modular nuclear reactors it will build in Idaho from 12 to six for a one-of-a-kind project that is part a federal effort to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

But Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems said the reactors will be more efficient than expected, so the amount of electricity produced will only increase from 600 to 462 megawatts.

Co-op spokesperson LaVarr Webb told the Post Register in an article on Friday that a plant with six reactors would be the right size for its members and outside utilities wishing to join.

The project is part of a US Department of Energy effort to reduce greenhouse gases by using nuclear power to supplement intermittent renewables.

At the end of last year, the Department of Energy granted the cooperative about $ 1.4 billion to help develop and build the commercial reactors at the Department’s 2,300 square kilometer site. Energy in eastern Idaho, which includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

The reactors are built by NuScale Power, based in Portland, Oregon. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved NuScale’s application for small modular reactors last year, the first time that U.S. officials have approved a design for a small commercial nuclear reactor.

“Before joining a next-generation nuclear power plant, the first of its kind, utilities obviously want to be sure that the plant is feasible and will be built,” said Webb. “Now that we have made significant progress, including a significant cost-share of the Department of Energy, and NuScale has received design approval from the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), we are seeing more and more utilities express their interest in the plant.

Idaho Falls has committed to purchase 5 megawatts of power from the reactors as part of the Carbon Free Power Project. The city had pledged to deliver 10 megawatts, but cut it in half in October amid concerns about financial risks.

“There isn’t much of a carbon-free future for many municipalities if we can’t understand some of this bridge technology to bring us to some of these long-term solutions,” said John Radford, member of the Idaho Falls City Council at a conference in July. 8 meeting. “This project is something that can help keep this country on this course towards a carbon-free future and perhaps a better existence for all of us.”

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